At this very moment, I have 3 guys hammering on my front door and yelling.
Ok, not quite...
But I do have 3 guys hammering on the wall that's just inches from my front door, and yelling instructions to each other. They are the team that's moving around the house blowing insulation into the walls, and at the moment they are working on the front porch around my door. LOUD! But I am very grateful. Two days ago they were in the back of the house doing the exterior kitchen walls, and darned if I didn't notice that the room suddenly stayed cooler than normal during this awful heat wave. Not cool-cool, but not as fiendishly hot as it usually gets when the weather is stinko for multiple days, as it is now.
Next: what does that picture have to do with sand dollars (referred to in the title of this post)? Nada. But it accounts for some of the other excitement today; my new mattress arrived. Yes, in a box. This may be a huge mistake, but I couldn't resist trying a mattress from Casper, a startup based in NYC. I love the concept; now I hope I love the mattress. Will report back. Before I can open the box, though, I have to get my old mattress out of here (bought in late 2001, so you know it is time for a new one), and I cannot do that until the workmen leave later today.
So now, let's get on to the sand dollar reference. I am still working on the "Tints on Tan" concept that Marty Deckel, CZT, has been teaching. My last two posts have referenced this and showed two other pieces I did. Today I tried a sand dollar. I took a few liberties with it--to put it mildly--and then, insanely, I also added a few water droplets to see if I could do them. You can see the results on the tile below, and then in the bottom picture you can see my preliminary "practice" water droplets.
The water droplets scared the pants off me when I thought about trying to draw them. Clearly I still have a lot to learn about drawing water and about the Tints on Tan technique, but I am having fun blundering my way along.
I put off trying this for 2 days because I was intimidated, then got irritated with my "spineless creative self" and forced myself to jump in today. It's not perfect, but so what? I couldn't believe how much fun I had working on it, and once again I was perfectly peaceful during the process, which is the most wonderful part.
"Ready or not, tell yourself to jump." --Chris Gardner
Hmmm, well maybe there is some advantage to stinkin' summer days (hot, humid, hazy weather). I know many people really love this weather. I loathe it.
Since I cannot go to my studio and work on the rug - who in their right mind, even those who love this weather, would want to be working with wool right now? - I am home working on tangles. And since it's summer, might as well work on summer tangles. So, here I am. I am incredibly happy to be tangling again. On the upper right is my "warmup" tangle, done on crappy scrappy paper. I may even like that one better (I wrote about it yesterday).
On the left is today's tangle, done on an actual Renaissance Tile (a fancy way of saying a high quality tan 3.5" x 3.5" Italian printmaking paper). I completely lose myself in this process.
Here's how I know: we are having insulation blown into the walls of the house today, and they've been banging, drilling, and filling since 8.30 a.m., quite a loud procedure. They've also been in and out of my apartment several times to check on a few things. When the checking part finally settled down, I allowed myself to sit down and tangle while they bashed away outside. And they were, indeed, bashing away, yelling instructions at each other, etc. But did I hear them? NO. Not until I was done. I do love this process.
Oh yeah, and when I do find myself endlessly whining about this weather, I look back at this photo I took last February. It's a sidewalk near my house. Enough said..
Happy Summer, everyone!
I gave myself a chuckle today, when I started playing with Marty Deckel's Tints on Tan process. She suggested experimenting on scrap paper before tackling an actual Renaissance tile, so I did...but it really WAS a piece of messy scrap paper and so, when this turned out better than I'd assumed it would, I had to cut it out in order to get a decent photo. This explains the odd line on the lower left (where the cut-out paper ended) and across the left side of the top, where it's lifting off the page. What a fun technique to try though. I look forward to working on an actual tile.
Here comes the heat and humidity again, so I will most likely be hunkered down for a couple of days and (hopefully) doing a fair amount of tangling. I just found out that our house is being insulated (blowing the insulation in thru the walls) over 3 days starting tomorrow...not sure how disruptive that will be. Also not sure I want to find out, but it's not as though there's any choice in the matter! Time to call on the Zen in Zentangle®. Ommmmmmmmmmmmmmm...
Who needs real chocolate when you can work with this yarn?
[Ok, that's a joke for sure since chocolate makes up 3 of the 4 basic food groups.]
This is another scarf started with the amazing Blue Heron yarn in the color "Tapestry." Although I don't know why they call it that, since it's obviously chocolate in color. It's really luscious. So many colors in this dye lot; I'll post a picture as it grows enough to see more of it. Looks like milk chocolate and dark chocolate to me...
Here's another thing I got done today, in between all the other non-art related tasks I had to do:
Yes, that's a grand total of 212 skeins of wool rug yarn waiting to be dyed, All neatly stored now at my studio. It was cool enough today to get to the studio, so not only did I get this done--I'd been wanting to do it for a while--but I also managed to get a small amount of rug hooking done. Not enough to show any difference so I didn't bother to phtograph the rug..
I had hoped to start another zendala today, but there just wasn't time.
A day with time for knitting, for rug yarn, and for rug hooking. What's not to love?
While the above colors are not quite true to the actual drawing, this is probably as good a photo as I'll get with my phone. I had immense fun doing this. And now I think I'm ready to move on from this mandala and try another one! Big thanks to Ann Grasso for her workshop (see the 7/21 post), and to Helen Williams for her tangle Kisses, which I used heavily throughout the mandala.
Still working on this zendala. Here on the right is what I did today. I xeroxed the original tile and shaded the xerox. I made two copies of the original, so next I'll try coloring it rather than shading. The unshaded original is on the left (for the story of this, see yesterday's blog entry).
I am still mulling this over. Do I like it the same, better, or less? Not sure. Feel free to register your opinion if you wish.
On another front, I'm knitting this scarf:
...and really enjoying it. It's a metallic rayon yarn in a color called Flax, from Blue Heron Yarns. Unfortunately the color is so light that you cannot see the metallic glints, which are very obvious in person.
On the lower left of the photo you can just make out a portion of a hooked pillow that I have on my couch. And the striped brown-and-cream textile in the upper part of the photo is part of my knitting bag.
I was completely focused on shading the zendala this afternoon, and quite "in the zone." I love art for its meditative qualities as well as the results.
I've been away for five days at the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies (BCBS), taking a workshop from Jason Siff, based on his two books and his decades of work with Recollective Awareness Meditation. It was wonderful, startling, even revolutionary. Not to mention that I lucked out because I was there during the four full days in July when the temperature was cool, even chilly at times. BCBS has no air conditioning; the day I arrived and the day I left were stultifying, but the days of the retreat were gorgeous, comfortable, and lovely. And oh, my, the flowers everywhere! And the sound of the wind in the trees. Incredibly peaceful. I feel like the luckiest person on earth to be able to do these things.
On the way home Sunday (well, not really, it was 2 hours out of my way in southern CT) I took a workshop on Meditation and Mandalas with Ann Grasso, using her 4-n-1 stencil for creating mandala strings. It was fabulous. And I got to see so many other CZTs, people I hadn't seen in months! Fun. I left feeling confident on how to use the tool, which is incredibly versatile.
But I needed to get home after 5 days away, and didn't have time to actually tangle at the workshop. Finally, at midnight last night, I set to work. And worked on it more today. Here is the current mandala-in-progress, which still needs either shading or coloring. I'm letting it sit while I decide what to do with it next. Ann was a phenomenally organized and helpful teacher, assisted ably by Cari Camarra (who had done many of the amazing samples). Have a look at their work if you want to see inspiring tangles!
I'm looking forward to thinking about what to do next to finish this piece, and then I have the other 3 pieces that I started at the workshop. Oh boy oh boy!
I needed all that zen, because on the way home from Cromwell, south of Hartford, I ran into the all-time worst traffic jam I've ever been in. A trip that would normally have taken about 2 hours took nearly twice as long. Surprisingly, I was ok with it, though I wished it wasn't happening as I'd gotten up at 5 a.m., left Barre for Cromwell (2 hour drive) in the late morning, and had to drive home in the horrific traffic jam between 4 and 7.15 p.m. A very, v-e-r-y long day. But it was so worth it. Big thanks to Ann and Cari, and shout-outs to Meredith, Terry, Jackie, Meredith's friend who was kind enough to introduce herself (I promptly forgot her name), Cheryl, and many others I am delighted to know. I lucked out by being able to sit with Cheryl during the whole mandala workshop. Looking forward to seeing what you all do.
Apologies for being absent, but I've been sidelined by severe sinus pain--my first-ever experience with allergies. How lucky am I that I have never had to deal with allergies until now! Living through the past week and the havoc it has wreaked on my system gives me such sympathy for others who have allergies from childhood. A huge challenge.
In any event, "3-H weather" is here (hazy, hot, humid) and that means no studio work so I've been busy with other things. But I wanted to pass along a link to a marvelous blog that I've been reading for years now; the topics are incredibly varied and the author must spend 100% of her time reading, since she recommends the most wonderful and unusual (or forgotten-but-fascinating) books. It's also lavishly illustrated, and thought-provoking. This entry is on what drawing does for the way we see the world.
Finished: the interior of the rug!
I'm pretty chuffed...I began working on this somewhere around March 20th, so it took just a little over 3 months to get this part done, working on it an average of about 4 hours a day, usually 4-5 days a week. Doing the math: 3 months = about 12 weeks. Twelve 5-day weeks = approximately 60 days, 4 hours a day = 240 hours plus a bit more.
There are still two borders to complete; one of them has been started as you see above, and the other is very small. I'm not at all certain I will use that smaller border.
And people wonder why hand-hooked rugs cost what they do...add in the cost of the wool and the planning--you couldn't charge what it's worth to make this.
But that's really beside the point, as my motivation is the sheer enjoyment of the process. The lovely repetitive meditative motion that frees the mind. The tactile sense of it. The colors passing through my fingers. The visual effect as areas slowly begin to fill in. And I'm always surprised by the outcome.
In many ways, rug hooking is a lot like the Zentangle® process: With Zentangle, the emphasis is on each individual line, not on the outcome. And thus, the outcome is always a surprise, a very pleasant one. In rug hooking, it's common to have a lot of planning go into the rug, and a particular outcome is planned for. A pattern of some kind, whether original or someone else's, is used, and colors are usually carefully plotted in advance.
Zentangle uses patterns. But classic "tangling" is done in black and white, and the emphasis is never on the outcome, but rather "in-the-moment" with the focus on the line your hand is drawing right NOW.
Yet they have similar effects. Both are absorbing and relaxing. And at least for me, even rug hooking, while much more planned, always has a surprising outcome. Sure, it does look like the design I created or selected, but the interaction of the colors of the wool is always a revelation, and the way the loops lie on the backing create an overall effect I can never fully predict.
And with Zentangle, I never plan, I focus on one line at a time, and I am often amazed at the way things turn out.
For me, it is the same with meditation. I sit down to follow the breath (or some other object of attention) and find the process of wandering off, coming back to the breath, wandering off, coming back to the breath, wandering off, coming back to the breath is very surprising no matter how much time I spend on it.
The word I selected for 2015 was "Practice." I keep coming back to it. Everything improves with practice. In the case of rug hooking, even the largest rugs get finished with enough practice. As the I Ching reminds us, "Perseverance furthers."
I plan to be as mindful as possible with every loop that I pull between now and when I finish this rug. When I finished the interior motifs and background yesterday, and stood back and looked at it, I was surprised at how quickly it has come together. I look forward to working on the outer borders, and I'm beginning to percolate about how I am going to approach the next rug.
Here is the design for that one:
And here is a shot of it with a bag of as-yet-undyed yarn that I will be dyeing and using in this rug. It will be my largest rug yet. I am leaving it on the studio floor for a few days to allow my subconscious to take it in and begin working with the image.
Every day I go to the studio, I am grateful for the freedom to do this work.
Want to see the full flowering of perseverance? Check out this woman's work (you don't need English translation to appreciate this).
I'm a textile artist (traditional rug hooking, punch needle rug hooking, and other textile arts), long-time meditator and coach, focused on learning about the interplay of art, creativity, and mindfulness every day.
NEXT INTRO TO ZENTANGLE CLASS:
No immediate group classes scheduled (I'm always open to hearing about a good venue in Western Massachusetts. I am always happy to teach 1-1 and/or in a small group in your home.
Come and amaze yourself!
SITES TO WATCH:
Insight Meditation Society
Oxford Rug Hooking School
Zentangle: The Official Site
Green Mountain Rug Hooking
Massachusetts Tarot Society
Skillful Meditation Project